I’m often asked how our business began. The answer is simple. As a mom suffering from empty nest syndrome, I needed an excuse to spend time with my youngest daughter, Dani. Cake decorating was hot thanks to the Food Network’s hit show Ace of Cakes and Dani and I had art backgrounds so a once a week cake decorating class seemed like a great way to spend an evening together. And it was.
Little did I know that our foray into playing with fondant would lead us to become a rapidly growing national brand less than 2 years later.
After three months of orders placed and rolling racks all over my house we had to make the decision to either bite the bullet and open a proper commercial kitchen where we could bake more than 2 dozen cupcakes at a time or to curtail the orders that were quickly piling up.
So…We bit the bullet. And in October 2011, Wicked Good Cupcakes opened its doors.
It’s interesting that having a great product was the easy part. The hard part was everything we didn’t know about opening and running a business. And an industry we weren’t schooled in to boot!
We learned a lot of lessons. And fast. I want to share some of what we’ve learned in a very condensed format. I am always available via email firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions or thoughts I haven’t touched upon.
So in the spirit of sharing and lessons learned, here we go.
Tracey’s Business Lesson: You don’t know everything so surround yourself with those more knowledgeable than you.
Once I knew we had a viable business (or at least thought we did) I went online and found the nearest chapter of SCORE. http://www.score.org/
SCORE is the service core of retired executives. That’s right. Retired execs who donate their time to people like you and me who want to start their business and honestly don’t know where to begin.
I met with three charming older gentlemen every Tuesday morning and shared my dreams, thoughts and fears. They encouraged me to write a business plan, research the local competition, price equipment…In general to learn about the business I was entering.
After several weeks of meetings I was ready to write my business plan. Enter my husband Scott. We were extremely fortunate that Scott had the experience of building successful businesses under his belt. Scott helped Dani and I not only focus but to be realistic when forecasting out 5 years. (I still don’t know how people can do this…). He told us if we were ever to need a business loan, a business plan would be vital. Who knew? We could bake and decorate…Numbers were scary and just not our thing.
We enlisted the help of a commercial realtor to help us find our space and to help us make sense of triple net, foot traffic and location, location, location.
My next new best friend was an experienced food broker who helped us to understand the fine art of weekly ordering. I could food shop for a family of five but purchasing product for a brand new commercial kitchen with no history or forecasting was an entirely different animal. He’s ask me what I needed and I say flour. He’d ask “how much?” I would answer “I don’t know.” You can see where this was going.
My sales rep and I still laugh about the day we put our first order in. It seems like yesterday and another life time ago. It took the patience and kindness of a vendor to teach us how to approach a subject we knew nothing about. I’m forever grateful and will always be a loyal customer. J Thank God for Topher.
Insurance agents, bookkeepers and accountants all necessary and again knew more than Dani and me.
Once we had a competent team in place we were free to do what we did best. Create a product that was not only beautiful, fun and delicious but also a product people wanted to buy.
We accomplished that. On our first day we sold over 1,000 cupcakes from our Cohasset shop. It was exhilarating, terrifying and overwhelming all at once. Thank God for all of the help we had not only that first day but in the months leading up to our opening. If I had tried to do it all myself Wicked Good would never have happened. Remember…You can’t do it all by yourself and you don’t know it all!